South Beach Stunner — Wizards at Heat, DC Council 19 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

South Beach Stunner — Wizards at Heat, DC Council 19

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Updated: December 8, 2015

The D.C. Council… TAI’s highlights, seen and heard, from each Washington Wizards game. Now: Wizards at Heat, Game 19, Dec. 7, 2015, via John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend).

M.V.P.

John Wall, no contest. He led the Wizards in assists (7) and paced all players in free throws made (7-7) and points (26), but at risk of sounding anything like a Wins Produced-touting basketball recapping automaton, I’m going to take a certifiably human step away from the box score. Wall dominated because, just like in Washington’s big win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the first defender was unable to stay in front of D.C.’s best. He lived in the paint. In the half-court, Wall would set up his mark, blow past him, draw in at least one other Miami Heat player and either score or supply.

In the scoring department, John Wall finished a two-handed dunk through contact—no whistle. He swayed right then crossed-over left and a half step back to bury a 3 over Chris Bosh. And those two plays came in the first quarter. He finished the first frame with nine points on 4-for-5 shooting. After Miami misses, and makes, Wall would use his best-in-class speed to beat Erik Spoelstra’s defense down the floor. He once started the break himself, baiting Goran Dragić into a lazy pass to the top of the arc—Wall jumped it and his cover, Dwyane Wade, who was solid all night but outshined by the young’n, had no chance to prevent the fast break finish.

Wall came into the game scoring the fewest amount of points per game against Miami, averaging just 13 over his five-year career. He had 14 at halftime. He scored another 12 in the second half, half a dozen when the Wizards needed points most, but I’ll get to that in another section.

After the break, Wall showed off his creativity and vision with jump-pass alley-oops, stop-on-a-dime passes across his body, and more. He finished the game with seven assists, as mentioned, producing 16 points. But had his teammates knocked all the chances he created down, Wall would have finished with 18 assists, per NBA Player Tracking data. All the more impressive given he was carried to the locker room by Kelly Oubre and DeJuan Blair after crashing into Jeremy Evans on Sunday night.

L.V.P.

Hot take: Otto Porter. 

Emmm, Box Score, what did Otto do?

Sir, Porter had 13 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, and 1 blocked shot, finishing plus-13 in plus/minus. It was his second career double-double, the second in as many nights.

Thank you Box Score. Now, sleep.

Here are the reasons I knocked Porter:

  1. He bricked three free throws (going 3-for-6), tying Hassan Whiteside for the most charity stripe misses in the game. Whiteside has shot 50 percent from the free throw line in his career.
  2. Otto missed two more 3-pointers in this one, sucking his season 3P% to 24.2 percent (and 6.7% in December).
  3. When he was challenged on a shot, he missed. When he was wide-open, he also missed. Porter went just 5-for-15 from the field overall, missing a handful of layups and shots around the rim, and often ending up on the hardwood. The third-year wing shot 2-for-6 on contested field goal attempts and 3-for-9 on uncontested shots.
  4. He allowed dribble penetration all night and was never able to recover and make a defensive play as a trailer. Wade, for example, bodied him out of just about every play, leaving him unable to throw up a contesting hand. This happened too often. Even Josh McRoberts got the better of him.
  5. He tripped over people’s feet as a ball handler, like three or four times, which led to some “courteous” foul calls from the referees, as Heat play-by-play guy Eric Reid put it.
  6. Porter didn’t fare much better in transition, once nearly passing the ball out of bounds and another time charging forward into the chest of Chris Bosh. Too predictable, offensive foul.
  7. He also got son’d by Bosh on a reverse layup attempt. The big man sent the shot into the second row.
  8. Whenever Porter was switched onto Bosh as a ball handler, he passed the ball sideways. A wing on a center should be a mismatch, in most situations, but never tried to take advantage.
  9. Defending one Miami inbound play, Porter lost Dragić around a screen, which forced the Wizards defense to scramble. Kris Humphries ended up guarding Gerald Green 24-feet from the basket. Green dashed past Hump for a thunderous slam. Bradley Beal was seen with a perplexed look on his face, palms skyward, asking, ‘What the fuck, man?’
  10. The 14 boards look pretty, they do. They also flatter Porter as the Heat showed little interest in scrapping for offensive rebounds, instead choosing to fall back and defend their basket. And six of those 14 were officially uncontested, per player tracking data.

Perhaps it’s a bit unfair to call him the Least Valuable Player, but I will say with confidence that he failed to impress on so many touches: 70 total, second only to Wall’s 82, in 36 minutes.

X-Factor.

The combination basketball Pizza Hut and Taco Bell: Ramon Sessions and Gary Neal.

Sessions scored five points in six first-half minutes and added seven in the fourth quarter to finish 12 points in just under 14 minutes. He shot 5-for-7 from the field. His biggest make was a fourth-quarter 3 (assisted by Wall) which put the Wizards up 97-91 with six minutes to play. And Gary Neal was everywhere and nowhere at the same time, quietly scoring 21 points on 15 non-pass touches, shooting 9-for-12 from the field (3-for-4 from 3). In the fourth quarter, Neal scored as many points as Jared Dudley and Bradley Beal combined and outscored Wade (4).

That Game Was…

Hanging in the balance late, then John Wall took over. Bradley Beal’s ISO game almost killed the Wizards. Beal, alone with plenty of space, took four mid-to-long-range 2s in the fourth quarter, missing them all. Not surprising, really. Big Panda is shooting about 36 percent from that zone.

The problem, in the final minutes of this game, was that the Heat took advantage of those jump shot turnovers, scoring on the other end.

4:11 – Bradley Beal misses 19-foot step back jump shot
4:11 – Goran Dragic defensive rebound
4:05 – Dwyane Wade makes two point shot (Goran Dragic assists)
Wizards 99, Heat 96 

3:05 – Bradley Beal misses 14-foot jumper
3:04 – Chris Bosh defensive rebound
2:54 – Dwyane Wade makes driving layup
Wizards 101, Heat 101 

Wall was there to bail out the Wizards. After Wade tied the game at 101 (see above), Wall beat Gerald Green with a dribble-drive. Justice Winslow was in the area and looked like he may cut off the driving angle, but was forced to step back out toward the 3-point line to prevent Wall from hitting Bradley Beal in the right corner for an open 3. As a result, as Wall elevated for the layup attempt, Wade had to come from the weakside—too fast and not time quite right, ultimately fouling the Wizards guard. Wall made both free throws.

The Heat would score just two more points, at the free throw line, while the Wizards would put in another 11:

  • a Beal dunk in transition after picking Wade’s pocket;
  • a Neal 3 from the right corner, a play disputed by Spoelstra, because Beal seemed to have traveled;
  • a Neal floater, which Wall set up with a drive and kick (not officially credited with an assist);
  • a pair of technical free throws made by Wall;
  • a pair of made penalty free throws by Wall.

Wall scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, those six free throws (no misses on this night) but also a driving layup and a wet, 19-foot jumper—scoring plays that offset the 10 combined points scored by Bosh and Dragić in the quarter. He had one direct assist on Ramon Sessions’ only 3-pointer of the evening and created that driving scoring opportunity for Gary Neal.

The All-Star finished the fourth quarter with a plus-10 plus/minus (+17 overall). Winning plays in winning time.

Three Things We Saw.

#1) Pressure defense, the trapping, switching, ball-hounding stuff the Wizards threw at the Dallas Mavericks (except executed better) and, if my memory serves me right, also the Toronto Raptors. It gave the Heat some problems and not just because they were forced to settle for the second option on offense. Miami came into the game averaging just 14 turnovers per game, the fourth-best mark in the NBA. They committed 17 total turnovers on Monday night, which led to 24 points for Washington, many coming in transition.

#2) The still soft underbelly that is Washington’s interior defense. Hassan Whiteside alone had five dunks against the Wizards and was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field. On the season, the Wizards are allowing the second fewest shot attempts inside five feet (25.8 per game), but allowing opponents to shoot the third-best percentage on those chances (61.2%). When they get beat, they get burned.

#3) Randy Wittman imploring his guys to shoot. He just wants his players to shoot the ball. After an early 24-second violation, in which Beal, Neal and Humphries turned down decent looks, Wittman was seen on the sideline pantomiming a jump shot, holding his right arm high above his head in the shape of a goose neck, mouthing, “Shoot. Shoot the ball.”

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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.